Gran Torino Film Analysis Essay

Critical Analysis Essay On a Movie Gran Torino by Clint Eastwood


Gran Torino directed and starred in by Clint Eastwood has a lot to say about society, and not all of it is good. Angry and sullen Korean War veteran, Walt Kowalski, has to learn to live with his Korean neighbors and accept that his neighborhood is in drastic need of change and cultural acceptance. This Eastwood classic and masterpiece shows violence, the moving away from violence, and change due to the removal of violence.

Kowalski's Detroit neighborhood is riddled with crime and he does not care at first. His change occurs when a young man from the Hmong culture of Southeast Asia moves next door. The young man has distinct cultural differences to the Detroit born and bred Kowalski. Accepting the neighbors is hard enough and then the young man, Vang Thoa Lor, tries to steal the sacred Garn Torino as a gang ritual. This major plot line is encircled with the constant violence of Mexican and Korean gangs. The violence starts with language and suggested weapons, and ends up with strong violence including rape and eventual death of Kowalski.

Ironically, Kowalski ends up being a role model for Thoa. He also saves his sister, Sue Lor , first from an inappropriate encounter and then after her horrific rape. The moving away from the violence is in part due to cultural acceptance and a realization that the community does matter and that Walt can make a change.

After the brutal rape and beating of Thoa, there is no looking back, Walt must make a stand against the gang members in the community. The next to last scene of the movie is a blaze of gunshots and tragedy. Walt never actually pulls his gun, and shadows representing darkness unload bullets on his body. This scene is not surprise, as the movie has been headed this way since the first scene. With his death, the community moves closer to an understanding that he has sacrificed for change and that change must happen.

The movie is played out in dark shadows, violence, and anger, but the violence, moving away from violence, and eventual death of Walt all show that changes is coming and that the change is positive. The reading of the will at the end of the movie provides a neat and unexpected ending symbolizing change for the better in the neighborhood.

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Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood, 2008) draws attention to the cultural differences between people living in a working class neighborhood in Michigan. An ideology of multiculturalism is promoted as Walt, a heterosexual white man, moves past his prejudices and forms a relationship with his Hmong neighbors. It promotes this ideology, however, without challenging hegemonic white masculinity and has an underlying theme of natural white superiority, as Walt takes on the role of a white savior for this cultural Other..
When Walt Kowalski sees the Lors, a Hmong family moving in next door, he says, “what the hell did these Chinks have to move into this neighborhood for?” This comment echoes the beliefs of extreme right wing new nationalism “defined…show more content…

It also suggests that until people stop regarding cultural differences as a negative thing and begin to see it as one of society’s strengths, there will continue to be conflict. In addition to racial differences, gender differences are a major issue in Gran Torino. In the film, the majority of the lead characters are male, with the exception of Sue. The women who are in the film are mostly portrayed as weak and following typical gender roles, such as when the Hmong women are serving Walt food at the barbeque or shown bringing food to his house. The only purpose Youa serves in the film is becoming Thao’s girlfriend, which is to help him become more manly. Sue stands out from the other women as being strong, outspoken, and independent. When she is harassed by the group of African American males, she stands up for herself and calls out one of the guys as “another asshole who has a fetish for Asian girls”. However, Walt still needs to step in and protect her when she is not strong enough to physically fight them off. She also needs to be rescued by Walt after she is attacked and raped by Spider and his gang. The fact that Sue, despite her fearlessness, must rely on a man to protect her promotes the idea of women’s inferiority to men. This conception is reinforced through Thao, who is

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